Greater Greater Washington

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Breakfast links: Off the rails


Photo by @mjb on Flickr.
Red Line derailment: The overnight derailment of a train without passengers near the Rhode Island Ave. station damaged some track equipment halting service between Fort Totten and NoMa this morning. No one was injured in the derailment. (WTOP)

DC marijuana law looks OK : The District's medical marijuana program should be free from prosecution thanks to new federal guidelines for US attorneys. (Post)

Wage bill gets to Gray: The living wage bill aimed at large retailers will likely get to Mayor Gray today. Once the bill gets to his desk, he will veto or sign it within 10 days. (Wash. Times)

Americans drive less: The country as a whole and DC in particular continues to drive less than the year before and it looks like a sluggish economy is not to blame. (City Paper)

Court is not in session: DC's Youth Court helps keeps juveniles who commit minor crimes from recidivism but DC is not funding it past this week. (Atlantic Cities)

Within reach: Have you ever found the straps too high on Metro or the bus? A new invention could give you the extra reach you need on your commute. (Atlantic Cities)

And...: How did a CaBi bike get to Seattle? (DCist) ... What you should expect from transit this Labor Day weekend. (Post) ... Ever wanted to ask Tommy Wells anything? You might get your chance. (DCist)

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Steven Yates grew up in Indiana before moving to DC in 2002 to attend college at American University. He currently lives in Southwest DC.  

Comments

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and on another note, this month will break the records on new car sales.

by charlie on Aug 30, 2013 8:33 am • linkreport

@Charlie

As a proud owner of F, I am happy to see that. With that said, there are a couple of explanations. It is the highest in total $ spent on cars, as the average price of new car continues to rise! Second, this is simply people replacing old cars, as the average age of the US fleet has also risen to an all-time high of 11.4 years. This is just making up for the abysmal years of 2008-2010.

by Kyle-w on Aug 30, 2013 8:45 am • linkreport

The Post/Dr. Gridlock link about Labor Day transit is broken - need to delete the last little bit after the slash in the URL.

by Dizzy on Aug 30, 2013 8:46 am • linkreport

Can we finally all agree that WMATA should be dismantled and reformed with an entirely new board and senior officials? Then fire the entire management and let everybody reapply for their jobs. I would even appreciate a federal takeover at this point.

by Adam L on Aug 30, 2013 8:46 am • linkreport

Let me guess, the bike was found on Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood?

by 202_cyclist on Aug 30, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

This time Metro can't blame freezing temperature, or warm temperature, or customers, or rain, or infiltrating water... so they blame the "dry conditions"... Well done, metro, well done... Maybe it is time to realize you don;t know how to manage the system before you kill more people...
Pathetic...

by NoNo on Aug 30, 2013 8:58 am • linkreport

Can we get Michael Morae back as well?

by 202_cyclist on Aug 30, 2013 9:04 am • linkreport

*Michael Morse

by 202_cyclist on Aug 30, 2013 9:05 am • linkreport

202_cyclist,

You mean the just recently waived Michael Morse, that is now going to the Oriels. At least he is just up the street, with his .226avg.

by RJ on Aug 30, 2013 9:19 am • linkreport

Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) will participate in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat next week.

Smart move by Wells: it's an opportunity to reach out to the "myopic twits" while at the same time ensuring that there is no chance whatsoever that any DC voter over the age of 30 will ever get wind of anything said in this chat.

by oboe on Aug 30, 2013 9:24 am • linkreport

The District's medical marijuana program should be free from prosecution

Note that the USDOJ statement is not firm. In other words, they may at any time decide to start enforcing Federal law retro-actively.

The living wage bill aimed at large retailers will likely get to Mayor Gray today.

Nice to see a city that screams murder about discrimination and prides its role in the civil rights movement differentiate between companies of different size. Legally, there is a difference. Morally, there is not. Well done, DC.

@ charlie: this month will break the records on new car sales

Don't know where this number comes from, but cars sold hover around the number of the 90s, despite the country having grown 10s of millions.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2013 9:26 am • linkreport

It's too bad about the Red Line derailment and "dry conditions." I have a feeling the shuttle operations is going more smooth than normal because this is one portion of the Metrorail system where there is redundancy, the Green Line between Ft. Totten and Gallery Place, for those travelling from Silver Spring, Wheaton, Glenmont, etc. to points downtown and south and west of downtown. How I wish we had more redundancy in our rail system.

Have a great and safe Labor Day weekend everyone.

by Transport. on Aug 30, 2013 9:38 am • linkreport

@Jasper--I'm not a huge fan of the living wage bill as written, but to compare differential treatment of Walmart vs. smaller retailers to civil rights is silly verging on Godwinesque.

by Dan Miller on Aug 30, 2013 9:39 am • linkreport

Is that the Washington City Paper or the original Baltimore City Paper (which is named just "City Paper")?

by STrRedWolf on Aug 30, 2013 9:42 am • linkreport

As the oldest line, the Red Line's problems may be a prediction of more troubles ahead for other lines.

by Tom Coumaris on Aug 30, 2013 9:43 am • linkreport

Actually, this is pretty much the *worst* section of the Metro system to do bus substitution (especially if you also take Fort Totten and Takoma offline).

Driving the equivalent route of a Red Line train from Union Station to Silver Spring is very slow and circuitous. There really aren't any parallel roads that hit all of the stations.

Even if you drive from Union Station direct to Silver Spring (skipping all of the intermediate stations), Metro will be faster under virtually all conditions. I don't think that there are any other portions of the Metro system where the trains are consistently faster than the equivalent trip by a car in light traffic.

by Andrew Schmadel on Aug 30, 2013 9:54 am • linkreport

VMT in DC has dropped by 21% since 2005. Despite growth in jobs and esp in population in DC. Despite many of the newcomers having cars. Despite (IIUC) an increase in registered vehicles in the District. Despite all the problems metro has.

could it all be teleworking and online shopping?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2013 10:06 am • linkreport

The plot of the Quiet American by Graham Green has bicycle bombs in it. But so what? You can pack a good deal of C4 in a backpack and walk down E St. without getting checked.

You know what else? All it took to terrorize the entire DC Metro was a rifle and a car with a hole in its trunk. The fact that no one else has followed suit suggests that the actual threat of terrorism is way overblown, mostly by those that have profited handsomely by the 12 years of hysteria.

by TM on Aug 30, 2013 10:30 am • linkreport

@ Dan Miller:I'm not a huge fan of the living wage bill as written, but to compare differential treatment of Walmart vs. smaller retailers to civil rights is silly verging on Godwinesque.

Why? What justifies treating a large retailer different from a small retailer? How is that fair in any way shape or form?

The problem here is that governments are abusing the low minimum wage to punish large/successful companies for their efficiency. That makes no sense. If you think the minimum wage is too low, increase it by all means. DC has already done so, so why not increase it more?

But it is principally unfair to treat companies different due to their size. Or, in different words, to make financially more attractive for people to work for a large retailer like Walmart than for a small local retailer. The result will be that Walmart ends up with the more motivated staff, while the small local retailers will end up with the less motivated staff. And that's how a policy hurts the very people is claims to protect. Meanwhile, the only people that benefit is are the politicians that get themselves re-elected on nonsense legislation like this. Well, and the potential Walmart employees who get paid a couple nickels more.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

"Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) will participate in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" chat next week.
Smart move by Wells: it's an opportunity to reach out to the "myopic twits" while at the same time ensuring that there is no chance whatsoever that any DC voter over the age of 30 will ever get wind of anything said in this chat."

Oh, don't be too sure about that. Some of us grumpy "get off my lawn" types actually do know how to use the Internet.

by Fantine on Aug 30, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

Walker- It's most likely $4 gas.

by Tom Coumaris on Aug 30, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

@oboe

Regarding the "myopic twits" i.e. Reddit users. Yes, it is weighted to the under 30 age group, but a signifcant percentage over that age use it as well.

Pew study:

"Six percent of online adults are reddit users,
according to a nationally representative survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This is our first survey that specifically examines reddit as a standalone platform, and it finds that young men are especially likely to visit the site. Some 15% of male internet users ages 18-29 say that they use reddit, compared with 5% of women in the same age range and 8% of men ages 30-49 ...

http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2013/PIP_reddit_usage_2013.pdf

by kob on Aug 30, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

@ tom

that would suggest a significant demand elasticity for gasoline. Note, to get the increased real fuel cost per VMT you have to take into account not only the increase in the nominal price per gallon, but the improved gas mileage of the auto fleet, and the rate of inflation.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

@Jasper - Don't know where this number comes from, but cars sold hover around the number of the 90s, despite the country having grown 10s of millions.

J.D. Power has estimated that based on the pace set in early August, new car sales will hit 1.27 million units by the end of the month—a 12% increase over August 2012, and the highest tally since the onset of the Great Recession. What’s more, because the average price paid for new cars has risen over the years, and “consumers are spending more on new vehicles than in any month on record,” J.D. Power “anticipates that consumer spending on new vehicles in August will be close to $36 billion, which would be the highest level on record.”

http://business.time.com/2013/08/29/august-2013-looks-to-be-the-biggest-month-ever-for-new-car-sales/#ixzz2dSsWAYfO

by 7r3y3r on Aug 30, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

Remember there was a story here about how DC tax revenue on cars had skyrocketed this year. More than doubled in the first quarter at least. People, even in DC, are spending more on new cars whether it's increased quantity or increased price or both.

During the recession people put off getting new cars which magnified the increased cost of gas to them later. Now the old clunkers are being retired and hopefully more fuel efficient cars are replacing them. At minimum I think people did learn to combine trips.

Also, I don't know how many other states have dramatically raised tolls like Maryland, but that will cut usage on those routes.

by Tom Coumaris on Aug 30, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

"What’s more, because the average price paid for new cars has risen over the years,"

what precisely does that have to do with urbanism? If someone buys a Tesla instead of a Civic, is that an "autocentric" choice?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Aug 30, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

@ Andrew Schmadel

Thats true but with the shuttles there is also the problem that there is really no direct route between many stations.

------
There wouldnt be such a need for shuttles if WMATA had more bus service traveling between stations; off the top of my head the stations that you can not take a bus between are Noma-Rhode Island Ave/Union Station, U Street & Shaw, Capitol South, Arlington Cemetery, East Falls Church-West Falls Church, West Falls Church-Dunn Loring, Dunn Loring & Vienna, Takoma/Ft Totten (outside of weekdays between 7am-7pm), Greenbelt & College Park, almost every station on the Green Line south of Anacostia.

It would probably be cheaper to just have all buses that travel between effected stations as free during times of major delays and having limited shuttles than trying to scrabble lots of shuttles

by kk on Aug 30, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

@ Andrew Schmadel

The reason its quicker is due to lack of stations there are 5 Stations between Union Station and Silver Spring compared what you have on the other side of the Red Line; if both had the same amount of stops it would also be slow on the eastern side.

by kk on Aug 30, 2013 12:11 pm • linkreport

I suspect the nationwide drop in driving has a lot to do with the economy. Used cars aren't as cheap as they once were and cars are increasingly less practical to self-maintain/repair (and DC has lost a number of its garages--the one I used in the 90s now has condos on its site. Gas has remained relatively expensive. the average car price has risen but people keep cars longer and its probably a relatively well off part of the economy that is buying. Using statewide unemployment is probably a poor indicator even though the metric is statewide---journey to work, changes in wage levels, and local variations in living costs could easily be more important.

In DC, a decline in driving may have to do with the cost of living and the continuous rise in the cost of housing.

by Rich on Aug 30, 2013 5:43 pm • linkreport

@Rich,

I suspect the nationwide drop in driving has a lot to do with the economy.

From the linked piece:

"The study finds no correlation between weak economic performance and a decline in driving. Instead, it states, 'Among the 23 states in which driving miles per person declined faster than the national average, only six saw unemployment increase faster than the nation as a whole.'"

by oboe on Aug 30, 2013 8:25 pm • linkreport

RE: Americans drive less

The source: A study from the U.S. PIRG

From the US PIRG website:

“U.S. PIRG is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

In other words, the US PIRG is a special interest group with an agenda. It happens to a website The website pretty much serves the same purpose as a blog. It’s there to express the views and opinions of the owner and promote the owner’s agenda and wishes.

Therefore, anything on the US PIRG website is there for the sole purpose of promoting an agenda, all claims of “we’re here to inform” to the contrary. No open-minded person should assume otherwise, even if they agree with the content.

One would assume that by now people (especially a newspaper that promote itself as journalists) would know that the simple fact that “it’s on the internet” doesn’t necessarily make something true or correct.

Least of all, simply because “I agree with it”.

by ceefer66 on Sep 2, 2013 3:09 pm • linkreport

People are driving less becasue driving is a chore when dealing with the ever increasing traffic we have. It's the main reason people are gravitating towards pedestrian and transit oriented living. Why go for a power walk in the suburbs after the trip to cosco when you could walk to the grocery store.

by Thayer-D on Sep 3, 2013 8:19 am • linkreport

@ceefer66,

I find you nuanced critique of the PIRG study to be compelling.

by oboe on Sep 3, 2013 11:18 am • linkreport

oboe,

Glad you liked it.

by ceefer66 on Sep 4, 2013 8:13 pm • linkreport

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